Commander Tom Gene Martin, 61, passed away on July 18, 2017. He peacefully left us with his wife Amanda, sons Tommy Robert Martin and Morgan Staneart by his side at home in Chowchilla, CA. Tom fought courageously for over five months, and succumbed to a cancerous brain tumor.
Tom was born in Corcoran, CA, January 30, 1956, and was raised in Merced, CA. Tom graduated from Merced High School in 1974, Merced College in 1977, and went on to attend a year at CSU Fresno playing football as a defensive lineman. Tom took a break in his education to pursue a law enforcement career, then returned to school while working, to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management in 2004.
In 1977, having a true servant’s heart, Tom began his 28 year career as a dedicated police officer for the Merced Police Department. He began as a reserve officer, then recognized for his commitment to protecting his community, was promoted to patrolman, detective, undercover officer, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, then Commander. Tom served under four police chiefs in his career. At the time of his retirement, Tom was the most decorated officer at the Merced Police Department, receiving a Medal of Valor from the State Attorney General’s Office, and two Medals of Honor from the Merced Police Department. Tom truly loved, and excelled in his career of law enforcement, however, his first love was his family and the western way of life.
Tom was not born into a ranching, or rodeo lifestyle. He began his love of rodeo when we was playing football for Fresno State in 1977 on an away game in Texas. Tom watched the College Rodeo Team practice steer wrestling. He asked them to teach him how to throw a steer down...and that’s when his love of the western way of life was planted in his heart.
In 1977, Tom met the love of his life, Amanda (Jensen), whom he asked for her hand in marriage. They began a loving partnership that included being a father to Morgan, who was only six years old at the time. Together they raised Tommy and Morgan, and had many memorable moments together enjoying rodeos, and ranching.
Tom was very involved in supporting youth and community events. Tom’s passion to make a difference in the lives of youth led him to serve on many committees over the years. His most cherished was volunteering and supporting Future Farmers of America, Friends of the Fair, and Chowchilla Western Stampede.
Tom and Amanda had many glorious adventures over the years, and enjoyed spending most of their time ranching, rodeoing, helping with BBQ’s for various fundraisers, and most of all, being involved with their sons and their grandchildren. This big hearted cowboy would just beam when you would ask about his family. He will be missed by his wife Amanda, son Tommy Robert and wife Bobbie Jo, son Morgan, and most treasured, his grandchildren Madeline, Henry, Amelia and Josephine.
The family wishes to thank the kindness and generosity of some very dear friends who helped care for this loving, kind man who spent a lifetime selflessly helping and bettering others. Thank you to Geoff and Tammy Tipton and family, Don and Sandy Myers, Jay and Amy Varney, and Darren Prestan and family.
There will be a Memorial Service on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 11 a.m., at the Eastman Hall at Chowchilla Fairgrounds. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to your local Future Farmers of America Chapter, Friends of the Fair, Valley Children’s Hospital, and Madera County Sheriff’s Foundation.